E-Learning: A Means to Increase Learner Involvement in Research

E-Learning: A Means to Increase Learner Involvement in Research

Marie de Beer (Durban University of Technology, South Africa) and Roger B. Mason (Durban University of Technology and Institute of Systems Science, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8246-7.ch081
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This paper investigates a method for increasing the involvement of marketing fourth year learners in academic research, by encouraging greater participation in, and commitment to, their research project in the Applied Marketing IV subject. It is assumed that greater involvement will result in a greater pass rate. The main reasons for this lack of interest were found to be a sense of incompetence and a lack of resources which were the main objectives of a research project. These objectives were addressed by using learner centered methodologies with the research method Action Research. This research method with the slow resolution of problems was used together with a teaching methodology whose objectives supported the resolution of the learners' inadequacies. Formative assessment was used at the start of the measuring of the learners' progress and was found useful with its quick and positive feedback in supporting the learners' confidence. An eClassroom was structured for the implementation of the Applied Marketing IV course. It was designed in such a way that it facilitated the learners' use of the more commonly used devices such as surfing the web, email and Internet over and above the chosen course material. Although it was not possible to complete the main intervention of the project it was possible to use the participants' experiences in the navigation of the course material in the eClassroom, to further develop future follow-up courses.
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Theoretical Framework

This research was based on the concepts of knowledge management and learning organisations, which can contribute to educational change and transformation (van der Westhuizen, 2002). Using this approach assists educators to achieve what Kraak (2004) refers to as increased responsiveness to the needs of the community (including business) and to the country’s socio-economic needs (growth and technology). This is necessary because of the increase in market pressure on education, especially for greater access and an increase in adult learners (Sehoole, 2004), which places tremendous pressure on the less experienced lecturer. However, appropriate learning and teaching approaches could alleviate this undue stress. An examination of the learning and teaching styles and approaches together with the use of electronic classrooms supported by blended learning based on authentic learning will clarify basic elements of the theoretical framework.

Learning and Teaching Styles and Approaches

As an adjunct to this inexperience and increasing pressure, different learners have different learning styles and therefore respond differently to the standard face-to-face teaching method. Therefore, using only one approach to resolve the above problem may not be optimal. Whatever teaching method is selected, it should be a method that caters for different learning styles and for the satisfaction of the learners.

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